What Meaneth This?

Acts 2:1-13.
AD when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all
with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a
sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled
all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them
cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they
were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other
tongues, as the spirit gave them utterance. And there were dwelling
at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven. ow
when this was noised abroad the multitude came together, and were
confounded, because that every man heard them speak in his own lan-
guage. And they were all amazed and marvelled, saying one to another,
Behold, are not all these which speak Galilaeans? And how hear we
every man in our own tongue, wherein we were born? Parthians, and
Medes, and Elamites, and the dwellers in Mesopotamia, and in Judea,
and Cappadocia, in Ptntus, and Asia, Phrygia, and Pamphylia, in
and in the parts of Libya about Cyrene, and strangers of Rome, Jews
and proselytes, Cretes and Arabians, do we hear them speak in our
tongues the wonderful works of God. And they were all amazed and
were in doubt, saying one to another. What meaneth this? Others
mocking said. These men are full of new wine.
Sanctify us, O Lord, through Thy truth:
Thy Word is truth. Amen.
Beloved Class and Hearers:
Pentecost is one of the oldest festivals in the Chris-
tian Church. It is older than the song of Bethlehem; it
is older than any other festival in the year. Fifteen hun-
dred years before Christ was born Pentecost was already
well known among the Israelites. It corresponded in that
day largely with our Thanksgiving Day now. It Avas a
day of Thanksgiving to God for the rich harvest, and
especially was it a day in commemoration of the giving
of the law on Mount Sinai. The word Pentecost means
the fiftieth day — the fiftieth day from the time the chil-
dren of Israel left the land of Egypt they received the
Holy Law of God on Mount Sinai, and fifty days after
Jesus Christ arose from the dead, we have the great Pen-
tecost referred to in our text today. It is a notable fact
in history, in the Bible as well as in profane history, that
the great messages have always been brief. What a short
message that was the angels of heaven brought from on
high when they sang of the new born King! What si
short message that was that atlmn brought to King
David that changed the history of the world. I should
love to dwell for forty-five minutes on this beautiful
theme, but the abundance of work today compels me to
say what I have to say in about fifteen minutes, and for
that reason I will ask you as a class to pray God the
Holy Spirit right in this hour to give you a riveted atten-
tion to every word that I say, that you may not only re-
member what I say today, but remember it through life.
When that great Pentecostal scene took place in Jerusalem
the people were overwhelmed and cried out. What mean-
eth this? And that is the question that I want to put this
I. What meaneth the Pentecost so great of old?
II. What meaneth the Pentecost we now behold?
I. What meaneth this Pentecost of old. It means :
1. That there was an unusual harmony and prayer
among those people. "And when the day of Pentecost,
was fully come the}^ were all with one accord in one
place." The word "accord" is a positive word. It means
one heart. They were together in one heart, in one place,
as we are told in a previous chapter, one hundred and,
twenty people. Stop and think what that meant? One
hundred and twenty people had the promise that the
Holy Spirit was coming; were praying day and night
for His coming; they had one mind; one thought;, one
language; one prayer; one object for living; one object for
waiting; one object for worshipping, and that was to be
filled with the Holy Spirit and to fulfil the will of their
God. Whenever a man makes up his mind that he wants
to be in harmony with the Lord God Almighty, then he is
on the right path, and w^henever he is in rebellion against
God's Holy will he is absolutely wrong. Your very pres-
ence here this morning shows very clearly that you have
put the question, What meaneth this? and before we are
told what this meaneth, this morning, let us go back and
look over this beautiful text and try to put ourselves in the
place of those people that said that day. What meaneth
this? They found out there was a harmony among those
people that resulted in that great Pentecost.
2. ot only was there a great harmony there, but
we also observe that on that day there was a powerful
exhibition of the Holy Spirit. "And suddenly there came
a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and
it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there
appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and
it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with
the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues,
as the Spirit gave them utterance." Is it any wonder
that the people asked the question. What meaneth this?
There those people were sitting and all at once there
was a great sound as if it Avere a storm, and yet there
was no storm, there was no wind blowing, but it sounded
to them as though a great storm was coming that would
sweep the city of Jerusalem away, and yet with all that
there was no storm. All at once they see something
like tongues of fire coming down on the people. It was
not real fire, but it was the Holy Spirit Himself, and
remember what John promised concerning the Holy
Spirit. He said "There cometh One after me who shall
baptize you with fire and with the Holy Ghost.'^ You
notice that this Holy Spirit was not in the form of a river
in which they could go and be immersed, but this Holy
Spirit came doAvn like fiery tongues and sat upon tliem,
and yet they were baptized with the Holy Ghost, teach-
ing conclusively that baptism does not mean to plunge
under, that that is not the Scriptural idea, but that it is
a cleansing of the Holy Spirit coming down like fiery
tongues, or, if you please, just as much in sprinkling
when we use water as in immersion.
3. We notice furthermore not only fire there, not
only a sound as of a rushing mighty wind, but there were
new tongues given to these disciples. They spoke as they
never spoke before. They proclaimed the wonderful
Word of God to every man visiting that city, and there
were people there from every island, from the surround-
ing country, Jews, devout men, not men who never heard
the Gospel before; not men who never heard the Word
of God before; not men, as many people suppose, that
were heathen and were made Christian in a day; they
had been Bible students ; they were men who had listened
to the truth for all these years, had waited for a Mes-
siah, but were not sure that Jesus Christ was that Mes-
siah, the Son of God, but now the Holy Spirit came down
on them and convinced them that unbelief is the damn-
ing sin; that righteousness is not in man but lies in the
arisen and ascended Lord; that there is a Judgment Day
coming just as sure as Satan was chained on Calvary's
hill, and when those people were convinced that now in
truth the Holy Spirit has come as Jesus said He would,
now the whole thing is plain to them; Jesus did come
and die for them, ascended on high; He is the Son of
God; this is the Holy Spirit; we have got the truth, and
now we will live a new life and proclaim the risen Lord;:
and as the storms purify the atmosphere, and the light-
ning's flash gives us promise of a clear tomorrow, and as
the fire cleanses and purifies, so the Holy Spirit hath
now taken hold of us, and sweeping through us, burns
out the dross and fits us for a life to come !
4. What meaneth this Pentecost of old? ot only
that the people were in harmony, not only that they were
prayerful, not only that they had a wonderful gift there,
the gift of tongues, but furthermore, there was a wonder-
ful growth on that day, on account of the good use of the
means of grace. I say it was a wonderful growth. That
morning there were only one hundred and twenty in that
upper room praying for the coming of the Holy Spirit.
That day the apostle Peter preached to them, and before
evening there were over three thousand souls baptized;
and not only that but we are told afterwards that over
five thousand turned to the living God, and they partook
of the Supper, and they were baptized in the name of the
Father, Son and Holy Ghost, and the promise was given
to them and to their children, and to all that were afar
off. That first day of Pentecost they did not draw a line
and say thus far and no farther. That promise was given
to men that now there is salvation for Jew and Gentile,
salvation for young and old, that there is a gift of the
Holy Spirit to come to you through the baptism of water.
Therefore, arise, said Peter, and be baptized, and wash
away your sins, and receive the gift of the Holy Ghost,
and this promise is to you and to your children, and to
them that are afar off, and as many as shall be called.
5. And finally, the last verse of this chapter says
that the Lord added to the Church daily such as should
be saved. It seems to me that that first Pentecost settles
the question as to whether a man can be a Christian and
be outside of the Church or not. The Lord added to the
Church daily such as should be saved. How can a man be
^ child of God and be outside of the Church? How can a
man be a child of God and stay away from the means of
grace? How can a man be a child of God and not be bap-
tized when God says he shall, and not partake of the Holy
Supper when Christ says. This do in remembrance of Me?
How can a man be a rebel and be a child of God? It is
a glorious thing, therefore, to ask the question this morn-
ing. What meaneth this, as it Avas asked on the great day
of Pentecost of old?
II. But, my dear friends, sometimes we feel like
those aged men that repaired the temple. You remember
when they came back from captivity the glorious old tem-
ple had been torn down and burned and then they started
to build a new temple, and the old fathers wept and cried
because they saw the difference between the old temple
in all its glory, and the new one which seemed to them
«o inferior. The young people who were born in captivity,
never having seen the old temple, laughed and rejoiced,
but the old people who had seen the glory of the old tem-
ple and now beholding the inferior new one, cried like
little babes, and sometimes we feel about the same when
we compare the present Pentecost with the Pentecost of
old. When we stop to think how on that morning the
sound came like a rushing mighty wind, and the fiery
tongues came down upon the disciples, and how Peter
preached with such masterh^ power, and how thousands of
people asked the question. What shall we do to be saved?
and they all came and partook of the blood and body of
Christ, and all tried to be a help to each other, and sold
all their goods and were kind to the poor, and grew in
number and usefulness to their fellowmen : when then we
compare the Church of today with its selfishness, when
we stop to think that many a poor church today is not
receiving a single member on this day of Pentecost, it
almost makes us weep, and yet we have a right in this
church this morning to ask the question. What meaneth
What meaneth this, that fifty men and women and
children shall to-day unite with this Christian Church?
It means today, my friends, exactly what it meant nearly
two thousand years ago. Why were there so many people
added to the Church of old on that first great Pentecost?
Because there was harmony there. And let me say right
here that no church on earth ever can prosper until you
Tiave harmony in that church. Wherever you can get the
people to fighting among each other in the church of God,
there God's work is done and the devil has his own way.
And mark you, the very fact that there are fifty people
sitting before me to-day who unite with this church, is
an evidence that the church at large is at harmony; it is
an evidence that the church at large is prayerful. I do
not mean to say there is perfect harmony here on earth.
There never was a church on earth where there were not
some few people who did as they did on that first day of
Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit was visibly before their
eyes, when they heard Him as the mighty storm of heaven,
when they saw with their own eyes and heard with their
own ears that these men were preaching the Almighty Gos-
pel of Christ in all the known languages, yet there were
some few people who went around and said, these men are
full of new wine, and mocked them ; and so you will find a
mocker standing around here and there on this day of Pen-
tecost just as well as the Pentecost of old. It may be, dear
hearers, that you have done some of that mocking your-
selves, in the past, but dear friends, whether you have or
not, what meaneth this? It means that after all the great
body of these Christians are one at heart. It does mean
that our united prayer is that God in His love will lead
us all on that narrow way that leads to heaven. It means
that we are one in praying for the coming of. the Holy
Spirit, and I question, my friends, whether you can find
a church on God's earth today that is more in harmony
than we are. Where is there one where there are so many
that have one design and one prayer and one aim for the
spreading of God's kingdom any more than we have here?
And that is what this means. Just as soon as the Church
of God is quarreling with itself and debating with itself,
and the members are fighting among themselves, just so
soon the addition of souls ceases. God the Holy Spirit
is in our midst. That is what it means.
It does not simply mean that we are one in harmony
and in prayer, but it means furthermore, that you are
getting the good old Gospel. My dear friends, I have
often wished that I could preach as Whitefield did, or
as Luther did. If there is anything in the world that I
have prayed for and aimed for, it is to be a mighty man
of God in the pulpit, not for any glory to myself, but
alone to the glory of God. I recognize, however, that I
am a very weak man in the pulpit. I recognize more and
more that without Jesus I can do nothing. I recognize
that if it were not for His gift and for His presence this
morning, my work would utterly fail, but there is one
thing that I will yield to no man, though he can preach
a thousand times more eloquently, he cannot preach a bet-
ter Gospel than I am preaching. o man on earth can
preach a better Gospel than I am preaching. It is
not I, but it is God's Word that you are getting, and I
challenge any man on God's earth today to point to a
single declaration I have ever made in this or any other
pulpit that cannot be substantiated word for word by the
Word of the Holy Spirit, and consequently, I shall never
accept the statement that we have a right to our own
opinions. I have no right to my opinion in this pulpit.
It is not human opinions you want to hear. If I were
preaching opinions you would all go out of this church
and live just as you did before, but every man sitting
before me this morning must acknowledge that when he
has heard God's Word from this pulpit he has gone out
with the conviction in his own conscience that what that
man taught us today is the Bible, and that is what this
means this morning. o human tongue can win souls.
o human power can bring men to God, but there is a
power in God's Word that nothing but devilish stubborn-
ness can resist. The apostle Paul, when he described a
certain class of people that would not come to Christ,
said. Ye are a stiff-necked people, comparing them with
the ox that bears the yoke and pulls against everything
that is right.
The apostle Paul said, I am not ashamed of the Gos-
pel of Jesus Christ, for it is the power of God unto sal-
vation to them who believe, and so I stand here this
morning and say that I am not ashamed of the Word of
God; I am not ashamed of the pure Gospel as confessed
in the Lutheran Church, and the confession of the Lu-
theran Church will never be changed until the Holy Spirit
changes this Bible.
Sometimes people think it is asking a good deal for
a man to confess on his confirmation day that he is going
to be faithful to the churcli until be dies. It would be
an awful thing to confess to be faithful to a church until
you die, that doesn't preach the truth, but what else can
you do when you have the truth exactly as the Holy Spirit
gave it? You have either to be faithful to that or not
be a Christian at all, so it is nothing out of place when
you will be asked the question, Will you be faithful to
the Lord Jesus Christ as confessed in the Evangelical
Lutheran Church until death? Your answer Yes, means,
I confess I will accept God's eternal Word just as He
gave it, until I die, and that is the only confession worth
making and the only vow worth taking.
What meaneth this? It means that the Church of
God grows today as it grew of old. While it is true that
there are only fifty souls added to this congregation
today, it is true that there are this morning thirty-five
thousand Lutheran preachers all over this world preach-
ing Christ and Him crucified to a dying world, and I am
safe in saying that a large percentage of these ministers
of the Gospel are meeting the newly confirmed members
and not three thousand, but possibl}^ thirty times three
thousand souls are being added to th^ Church of God in
this very hour.
What meaneth this? It means that the Church of
God will grow where the Word of God is taught in its
truth and purity, and not the opinions of men, and where
this truth is preached to hearts of the people that have
one accord and one prayer for the extension of God's
kingdom, and where those few stand around and mock
and say these men are full of new wine, all are over-
whelmed with the mighty truth and souls are coming to
One man was unkind enough not long ago to say, It
is true the First Lutheran Church is growing, but what
kind of people are they getting, and a man who stood by
his side said, I will tell you. Here is a man that was a
drunken old sot, and toda}^ he is one of the best men in
the city. That is the kind of people they are getting.
That is not the only kind, they are getting some of the
best citizens of Mansfield, but I want you to understand
the real truth, the Gospel was intended to help people,
and all of them, and any man that will say the Church of
God should refuse to take any other person on earth,
does not understand the work of the Holy Spirit nor the
Word of God in general. I am proud of every member
that has come into this church and I pray God thi« day
that you will all be so directed that you will stand as
monuments of the wonderful grace, of God.
What does this mean? It means that if we do more
for the poor and practically carry out the old Pentecostal
spirit in the present day that this church must grow and
grow and grow until we have more people than we can
contain within these walls. It means that the people will
come together there where they feel that the great Church
of God is in its fulness, and if you want to know why
people are attracted to this congregation today, it isn't
due to any one man, but it is due to the teaching of a
chain of men who from the very organization of the First
Lutheran Church, have given their hearts wholly to the
Master, men who have learned how to say, we want to be
helpful to others and to all; who have said, we want a
church not for the rich, a church not for a select class of
people, but we AVant a church for immortal souls, and
when there is hunger we want to feed ; when there is thirst
we want to give a drink ; when there is nakedness we want
to clothe; when in prison Ave Avant to visit them, and do
for them as Ave would do for the Lord Jesus Christ. And
Avhere that sjjirit preA^ails there you will find the Holy
Spirit, and Avhere the Hol}^ Spirit is there you aa^II find
souls growing in grace," and added to the church such as
should be saved.
And in conclusion, dear class, to what I have said
to you, let me add just these three thoughts :
1. Buy good books. You know, my dear friends,
hoAv little you have been required to learn to come into
this class. A good deal less than I have ever demanded
of any other class in my life, and yet I did feel that if I
could just give you a good start on the narrow road we
would have school afterwards, and consequently I urge
upon each of you today to voav before God that you are
going to have a little library you are going to study in
the future, and in that little library do not forget first
of all that little catechism. The more you study that little
book, the more you hear that book, the more you will
find out what a wonderful gem it is ; and therefore, I urge
upon you all, whenever you have the opportunity in the
future to join the larger catechetical class, come and hear
more and more. There is one in this house that has srone
through that catechism seven times since 1 am in jour
midst, and no one knows better than that one what a
wonderful blessing that has been. And now I will ask you
to go just as often as you can to catechetical instruction
and learn more and more of the true doctrine of God's
I would ask you to get a Bible history. You can buy
a Bible history that will be a wonderful help to you in
your understanding of the Bible. Bu}^ that and read it,
I would have you get a good Bible with good large
print, call it your own, read it noAV and make up your
mind that you will read that Book until you die, so that
when you are old and your eyes begin to fail that you
can at a glance at a page know what is on that page be-
cause you have read it before, so the time will never come
that you cannot read the good old Bible.
Then I would ask you to get a hymn book so that
when you come to church you can open to the hymn and
help praise God, and when you have your catechism and
Bible history, and your Bible and hymn book, then sub-
scribe for a good church paper, and keep in mind day by
day what God is doing today. I come to some men and
say. Why don't you take a church paper? Oh, they say,
I have a Bible. You might just as well quit taking the
daily paper and go look at your United States history
every evening. The Lord God isn't giving us the daily
papers, but He is giving us the church papers that we may
know what God is doing in the church every day. So I
would say a good Christian should have the church paper
and should study all these things.
2. In the second place, I would have you learn all
you can of God's Holy Word. Learn it in the catechetical
class. Learn it in the Sunday School. Do not think like
some people that you are too old to go to Sunday School.
o man on earth is too old to study God's Word half an
hour before Divine service, and it will be a blessing if you
will go next Sunday morning into some Bible class; go
and sit down and study God's Word and make your Sun-
day School lesson just as regular as you do your meal.
Some people eat only one meal a day; they are going to
lose health. Eat three meals a day and study God^s Word
every day. You need it.
ot only go to Sunday School but to divine service.
Unless you are sick and on your bed be found in God's
house every Sunday. Do not say you cannot. The Lord
God never gave us a single law that was impossible. He
says, Remember the Sabbath Day to keep it holy. Dear
friends, the same God who said, Honor thy father and
mother, wants you to honor father and mother, wants
you to keep the Sabbath Day holy, because He said so.
Therefore, I urge upon you, let not this day pass by when-
ever it comes without being in God's house and hear the
Word of God. o one is so poor that he will not get
something to take houxe with him to be food for his soul.
And then study God's Word at home. Open the Bible
every day, learn something, if only a verse or two, medi-
tate on them, and pray over them. You will grow. We do
not get to be Christians in an hour. These beautiful
flowers did not come out in a night. The bulb was
planted, it grew, and at last came out this beautiful flower
we see this morning. Our growth will be longer and
slower til an that of the floAver. Here is a little egg, a
little chicken comes out, in an hour it runs, and we
often think, Oh, that the little babe could do that.
But babes get older than chickens do and consequently
it takes longer to raise babes than chickens, and it takes
longer to raise men who get to be seventy-five years old
than it does to rai«e a flower that only lives today and to-
morrow is thrown into the fire. Consequently, we must
learn that this growth is gradual, and you ought to study
God's Word every day at home and thus grow in grace.
May God help you to grow day by day, learn more and
more of God's eternal truth and then when your last
hour comes and you breathe your last, you will not only
rejoice that you have done your part in this world, but
all your friends will rejoice. Oh, I believe, my dear
friends, that there is great joy in heaven this morning!
How some of your fathers and mothers would rejoice if
they could sit here and see you! And may be they do
.see you. I believe they do. And what joy there would be
in their hearts to know you are here in God's house doing
your part to serve your fellowmen. May the Holy Spirit
direct you this day and through life, and may the prayers
of this whole church go up to the heavenly throne in behalf
of those who come to this altar today. Amen.

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